James McAvoy and Sharon Horgan as a husband and wife locked down in the same house. Photo: BBC

The best television in the UK this June 2021

James McAvoy and Sharon Horgan play an uncommunicative couple on BBC Two, plus Ernest Hemingway reconsidered
June 8, 2021

Together, BBC Two, mid June

Major talents make this tale of life under Covid one to watch. It’s written by Dennis Kelly (Matilda the Musical, Utopia), directed by Stephen Daldry (Billy Elliot, The Crown) and stars the superb James McAvoy and Sharon Horgan as a husband and wife locked down in the same house. Kelly describes them as “a couple who totally hate each other, but have somehow found a way of existing together by not talking to, thinking about, noticing, communicating with or being in the same room as each other—then lockdown happens.”

The Return: Life After ISIS, Sky Documentaries, 15th June

In February 2015, 15-year-old Shamima Begum made headlines when she was caught on CCTV with two London schoolfriends, travelling to Syria to join the Islamic State. She was found four years later living in a Syrian refugee camp, but unable to return home after home secretary Sajid Javid cancelled her British citizenship. This documentary talks to Begum, as well as other young women who are among the 60,000 former IS female recruits stranded in Syria.

Hemingway, BBC Four, June

In the continuing cultural exchange between American and British TV—they have adopted our shorter-format series in comedy and drama and our preference for authored works over writers’ rooms—one of the stateside things that we’d happily see take root again here is the exhaustive documentary series that seeks out every nook and cranny of a subject. This one, from Ken Burns and Lynn Novick, examines the life and work of Ernest Hemingway. It is worth seeing, surely, before the alcoholic, philandering poet of traditional male heroism is washed away in the culture wars.